August 2009 in Network Rail and Suppliers
A new roster is disrupting regular sleeping patterns and causing fatigue amongst workers carrying out track inspections along the East Midlands line.
These track inspections take place during both daylight and night time hours. Most of these begin after 06:00 apart from an odd shift in the middle of the week which begins much earlier, at 03:00. Although it begins during the night, this shift is currently being regarded as a dayshift, the same as the other shifts. Under the dayshifts, the 12 hour break period is applied.
The problem is that the odd shift starts much earlier than the normal starting time, which disrupts workers‟ sleeping patterns. This leaves them feeling lethargic when they work this odd shift as they have either had less sleep the night before or they also feel more tired the day after as getting into the normal shift working pattern is disjointed and difficult to adjust to.
It is unclear whether the odd shift should be counted as a day or night shift. The reporter thinks that as the odd shift work begins during the night time (between 18:00 and 06:00) it should be classified as a night shift. This would allow all workers to be fully rested as a 32 hour break period could be incorporated into the roster.
Consequently, the odd timings of this shift can be coped with better and workers can adjust back into the other shift timings with less difficulty.
Could Network Rail provide clarification on whether shift starting at 03:00 should be classified as a day or night shift?
Can the current roster be better designed so that workers are fully rested between the regular and odd shifts?
Network Rail would like to thank the employee for raising their
A night shift, according to the working time regulations, is any shift that occurs between the period of 23:00 and 06:00. Generally it is at least seven hours long and includes the time between midnight and 05:00. Hence, the shift in question here is undoubtedly a night shift.
The design of all of our rosters afford sufficient resting periods for the type of work being undertaken.
The resting period after this one nightshift is 21 hours where as the minimum requirement is for 12 hours.
The only roster we have been able to identify which has a 03:15 start time within it has been put through the Health and Safety Executive Fatigue and Risk Index using shifts over a four week period as per HSE guidance.
The index was developed by the HSE to help identify where in a roster the pinch points are for fatigue and risk of accident. Cut offs are 45 for the fatigue index and 1.6 for the risk index.
The roster analysed has produced the following figures of:
fatigue rating - average 8.8 maximum 16.4
risk rating - average 0.760 maximum 0.859
As these figures are well within the current HSE guide lines the roster is well within the fatigue and risk index limits.
We are currently working on an e-learning programme on fatigue management for managers and safety support staff, which should be out in the next few months which will then be adapted into DVD format for frontline staff too.